As an athlete, pushing yourself to the limit to overcome intense physical adversities is a part of the game and a continual challenge that molds you into a greater athlete.
Naturally, pain and injuries are very common amongst athletes.
While “No pain no gain,” is a mindset every athlete learns to respect, many will often overlook potential risks and health issues that should be addressed, which can lead to long term health issues.
With a growing concern amongst athletes, many have taken a serious interest in hemp-derived CBD, and for good reason.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of CBD for athletes, how it works, and discuss important considerations about CBD for professional athletes.
What Is Cannabidiol (CBD) and How Does It Work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-derived compound, produced in the sticky resin of the cannabis plant.
When properly extracted from industrial hemp, CBD will not contain inflict intoxicating effects on the user. In addition, because hemp is distinguished by containing very low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind-altering compound found in marijuana, CBD derived from industrial hemp is legal to use in the United States under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill).
By interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the synaptic signaling system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), research has shown that CBD can help regulate important health functions to maintain homeostasis in the body.
The Benefits of CBD for Athletes
With dozens of therapeutic properties, CBD can deliver a wide variety of benefits for athletes.
From pain management and muscle recovery to stress relief and mood regulation, it’s no surprise that CBD has become so popular amongst athletes.
If you’re an athlete wondering if you should use CBD, here’s 5 compelling reasons why you should.
1. CBD Can Reduce Inflammation and Help Manage Pain
Athletes are constantly pushing their bodies to the limit, which naturally results in soreness, pain, and occasional injuries.
Advil and over the counter painkillers has been a common treatment for managing this pain; however, evidence has shown that long term use of certain painkillers can increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and other serious health problems.
CBD is a natural alternative to traditional pain medication that delivers effective treatment in two ways: (1) CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and can significantly reduce the swelling and pain caused by inflammation, (2) CBD can influence vanilloid receptors, such as the TPRV1 receptor, which is known to mediate pain perception and inflammation.
2. CBD Can Speed Up Post-Workout Recovery
When we perform a physical activity that requires more exertion or strain than it had previously experienced, our muscles are torn and damaged, resulting in soreness, fatigue, and pain. After a period of rest, our muscles recover and are now stronger than they were before. Continually performing this process, pushing the body through each threshold is how our body builds muscles.
While most athletes would rather be back in the action, instead of recovering on the sidelines, recovery is a necessary process to avoid serious injury.
Studies have shown that CBD is rich with not only anti-inflammatory properties but antioxidants as well. In fact, experts believe that the antioxidative effects of CBD are even more powerful than those of Vitamin C and Vitamin D.
Combined, the anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants in CBD help to reduce oxidative damage and can significantly speed up the recovery process.
3. CBD Helps Regulate Emotions and Mood Levels
As athletes, it is important to not only keep your body in peak physical shape but your mind, as well.
Negative emotions, stress, anxiety and mood swings are harmful factors that can deter an athlete’s confidence and dramatically affect performance.
By influencing the receptors in the region of the brain that regulate cognition and emotion, studies reveal that CBD can improve how the brain response to stress or anxiety and significantly improve mood levels.
4. CBD Can Help You Get the Rest You Need
Sleep is a vital health function in which the body rejuvenates and the mind is able to rest. Without the proper amount of rest, an athlete’s body cannot restore itself, and both their mental and physical performance could significantly decline. Over time, a pattern of not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of serious health conditions.
Studies have shown that CBD can help combat sleep disorders and restlessness by regulating our sleep-wake cycle and alleviating symptoms that can cause restlessness, such as anxiety, stress, and pain.
5. CBD Can Encourage Weight Loss
The body consists of two types of fats cells: brown and white.
While brown fat cells store fats that are considered to be beneficial, white fat cells store that fat that leads to weight gain.
That being said, it’s important for everyone, especially athletes, to maintain a low level of white fat cells and a higher level of brown fat cells.
By helping to convert white cells into brown fat cells, findings from a recent study suggest that CBD can encourage weight loss and improve overall health.
Are Professional Athletes Allowed to Use CBD?
To ensure the integrity of a sport, sports organizations prohibit players from consuming certain substances. As a substance that is so closely related to THC and the effects of “getting high,” CBD presents a conflicting decision for sports organizations.
While some recognize CBD for its therapeutic properties and permit its usage, others have enforced policies that strictly prohibit players from using CBD.
If you’re on the path to a career as a professional athlete, understanding the regulations major sports leagues have set in place for CBD usage is very important.
According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, when listing a substance as banned, it has to have at least 2 of the 3 following characteristics:
- It poses a risk to the athlete’s health
- It boosts performance
- It violates the spirit of sportsmanship
Based on research from the guys at MadeByHemp here are the major sports organizations that allow CBD usage, and the ones that do not:
|Permit CBD Usage||Prohibit CBD Usage|
|– World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)|
– National Basketball Association (NBA)
– Major League Baseball (MLB) (with conditions)
– National Hockey League (NHL)
|– The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)|
– National Football League (NFL)
Please be aware that each organization has varying regulations that are specific to each and it is highly advised to consult with a lawyer and review the regulations on each of their websites (linked below):